Does Game of Thrones Have One Last Surprise?

Theories about the final “Holy s— t moment”

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Press Photos from HBO

Spoiler warning: Don’t read unless you’re caught up to Season 8 Episode 3.

Yes, I’m going to don my tinfoil hat, to share some Game of Thrones theories that are keeping me excited for these final episodes of the series. Specifically, I’m interested in Bran’s storyline. There are some theories I read about, and others I came up with myself.

Season 7 gave us plenty of reasons to worry that this last season might not live up to our grand expectations. Rob Bricken detailed some of these worries in What if the End of ‘Game of Thrones’ is Terrible?, for OneZero. Yes, long awaited conversations didn’t always have the impact we hoped for, and characters sometimes seemed to teleport across the continent. The show cliffhangered us with Jaime, in full armor, seeming to drown in a puddle. Or a random lake? Or… something?

I was among the upset fans who — even in a rewatch — could not detect at what point, if any, Arya and Sansa’s fighting turned from real to fake, in order to fool Littlefinger.

So I get it.

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Press Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO

The episode had huge ratings in terms of views, but has the second worst Rotten Tomatoes rating of any Game of Thrones episode, at 75%. (The very worst, at 55%, is Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken from Season 5, the one featuring Sansa’s rape by Ramsey Bolton.)

Whether or not you cheered when Arya killed the Night King (for the record, my husband and I both did) or you agree with Michael K. Spencer in his piece for 1-One-Infinity: Game of Thrones is a Major Disappointment, there are reasons to think Game of Thrones has one last big surprise.

In 2014, Author George R. R. Martin sat down with the show’s producers and outlined how he was planning to end the books (assuming that ever happens).

Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss told Entertainment Weekly those conversations included “three holy shit moments.”

Two of those moments have happened so far:
*Stannis sacrificing his daughter Shireen, by burning her at the stake.
*How Hodor became Hodor.

So we have one more holy shit moment to come, which Benioff teased, “… is from the very end….”

I do not believe that holy shit moment was Arya killing the Night King (the showrunners would’ve immediately admitted to it, as they did with the other two moments).

And we are far from the very end, as the run times on the remaining three episodes are
Episode 4: One hour and 18 minutes
Episode 5: One hour and 20 minutes
Episode 6: One hour and 20 minutes

Each remaining episode could be an entire movie. Added up, we have 4 more hours of Game of Thrones! (Hooray!)

So I refuse to believe that all that’s left is fighting Cersei for the throne.

We’ve been told that the fight between the living and the dead was the fight that mattered, not the fight for the throne. So I don’t think we need 4 hours for the fight for the throne. I think the holy shit moment will make us realize we were missing the real threat all along.

I love reading theories on r/asoiaf (A Song of Ice and Fire), because most redditors there have read the books, not just watched the show, so they’re more invested in the plot, and their theories are more developed.

The theories that excite me right now are those about Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven (3ER).

Bran’s been creeping us out since the 6th season with this 3ER stuff. Whether he’s refusing to properly thank Meera, or telling Sansa she looked beautiful when she was raped on her wedding night, the one thing he’s been clear on is he’s not Bran anymore.

So, who is he? Is he the Night King? Is the Three-Eyed Raven evil?

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Press Photo from HBO

Theories on Bran/The Three-Eyed Raven:

Redditor u/AegonStarkgaryen, in The Only Way Out of This Mess:

“The White Walkers were, in fact, trying to kill the 3ER for generations. As soon as he ventured South of the wall in the form of Bran, they followed suit ONLY to try kill him. So what does the 3ER do? He manipulates the rest of humanity to save him from the WW, painting THEM as the evil guy. That’s his only option. The NK’s mark is on him and will hunt him down.

Which means — all of this was engineered by the 3ER. That is why he gave Arya the Catspaw dagger. So she could use it to kill the NK in order to save himself.”

(u/AegonStarkgaryen elaborated on the theory here.)

I love this theory. We have zero reason to believe the 3ER is good.

My hope is, if this happens, we also get to see the 3ER affecting time again. This was more than teased, with Hodor, and with Ned Stark hearing time-traveling Bran, right before we see baby Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen.

If Bran can affect the past, what if he was doing that during the last episode? During The Long Night battle, when Bran was warging, was he actually going back in time and changing a bunch of stuff to make the battle happen the way it did?

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Press Photo from Helen Sloan/HBO

And here’s the theory detail I’m dreaming of: Are we going to start next episode with a world we don’t recognize? Did he change something that, yes, ensured Arya could kill the Night King, but also butterfly-effected the entire world?

I want this Official Teaser Video from January to somehow come into play. We see Jon, Sansa and Arya in the Winterfell crypts, with tombs for their own bodies. One notable thing is that Bran is not with them, which gives credence to every theory here. It also gives me hope that we’ll see some sort of alternate timeline story, one where all these characters died.

Redditor u/RBlomax38 in Bran’s Secret That Explains Everything:

“When the NK grabbed Bran’s arm in his greenseer dream he was grabbing a hold of his mind/soul and actually caused a Freaky Friday like body switch and ever since then the Night King has been in Bran’s body and vice versa….

Luckily Bran isn’t quite dead, just stuck in the body of his greatest enemy that only speaks a weird scratchy alien-like language. There’s no way for him to tell his family what’s happened, all he can do is try to kill the NK in his own body before he takes control of Winterfell and all of Westoros. He knows the only way to do this is to take control of a dragon so he kills Viserion (and not Jon or Dany even though it looked like he had plenty of chances) and takes his newfound army to Winterfell.”

This one’s interesting, because it would mean that since Season 6, Episode 5, when the Night King grabbed Bran’s arm, every time we’ve seen Bran/3ER, it was really the Night King. And every time we thought we saw the Night King, it was really Bran, trying to figure out how to get south of The Wall to stop the evil person who looked like Bran.

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Press Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO

I’m not a fan of this theory, but I have heard people posit that Bran and the Night King didn’t freaky friday back at the arm grab, but they did switch bodies in the Godswood, right before Arya killed the Night King. So Bran/3ER is dead, but the Night King is still alive in Bran’s body.

Redditor u/fishinglvl in Why it Isn’t Over:

“A few seasons ago, the Night King was recast and is now portrayed by Vladimír Furdík- a stunt actor previously used in virtually all of the show’s most intense sword-fighting scenes. Vladimír is a stunt actor, and has not played any other roles other than those that are strictly stunt-based….

Despite this guy being a ridiculously experienced stunt actor who’s resume consists of literally 100% sword fighting roles, he was cast as the main antagonist… on the biggest show on television… with a seemingly badass sword… And he has still not been given a single fight scene….

Given the enormous amount of foreshadowing, development of Jon’s character, focus on the intensity of the WW threat, and the mystery/mythology that encompasses it all- i believe the Night King will return in some capacity (most likely through Bran), and we will see the fight between Jon and NK. I believe it will present itself once the throne has been won by Jon/Dany.”

It’s a really good point. Why would they recast the Night King with a sword fighter and then not give him any sword-fighting scenes?

Okay, I haven’t seen anyone else make this connection. But, isn’t it possible that the entire idea of a system (of trees and ravens) that can see everything that happens (and record it forever) is creepy enough in its own right? This is worse than cameras on every city block. Surveillance systems aren’t evil; but they are devoid of humanity. They are not on the side of the living.

Somehow will this come to a head? Will the characters find a downside to a system that knows everything that’s ever happened, and prefer that history be recorded as a story instead (written by Samwell Tarly, of course).

Maybe I’m in denial. I admit I’m not at all confident that any of these theories will actually happen. But they’re fun to imagine. Especially because we know there’s one more big surprise coming. Whether any of these Game of Thrones theories come to fruition, I’ve gotten endless enjoyment out of watching the show and theorizing.

I can’t wait for these last episodes.

Written by

Empathy for the win! Published in Gen, Human Parts, Heated, Tenderly —Feminism, Sexuality, Veganism, Anti-Racism, Parenting. She/They darcyreeder.substack.com

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